Ash Wednesday

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When is Ash Wednesday in Canada?

Holiday in Other Languages

English Name

Ash Wednesday

French Name

Mercredi des Cendres

German Name


Many Christians in Canada mark Ash Wednesday as the first day of Lent. It is the beginning of the Lenten fast and is the day after Shrove Tuesday.

Is Ash Wednesday a Public Holiday?

Ash Wednesday is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

What Do People Do?

Many churches in Canada hold special Ash Wednesday services for their congregations. It is a time when people who seek penitence for their wrongdoings are marked with the sign of the cross, from blessed ashes, on their forehead. This symbolic occasion reminds people of their mortality and sorrow for sins, as well as the will for change and the hope of forgiveness.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lenten discipline for many Christian churches. It is traditionally a time of fasting and prayer as part or preparations for Easter when they are ready to receive or reaffirm their baptism. For some Christians, Lent is a time to think about life and death, as well as reflect on life’s choices and possible life directions.

Ash Wednesday serves as a wakeup call for some Christians. It is also a time of goodwill for many people. There are also those who chose this time of the year to donate to charities or take part in charity events as a way to get close to God.

Public Life

Ash Wednesday is not a national public holiday in Canada.

Background and Symbols

The practice of marking foreheads with ashes was common among Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and some other churches in Canada but it is now practiced in various other Christian denominations. A general article about Ash Wednesday worldwide covers more information about its background and symbols.